Goal-Oriented, Optimistic Survivor Making a Difference
Steve Coleman has never set a goal he couldn't reach. In the wake of striving for the next level of achievement, he has left waves of accomplishments: a black belt in tae kwon do, a national windsurfing championship, competitive swimming success, and starring roles in commercials for Coca-Cola, Noxzema and other major products.
But Steve believes his most notable feat to date is beating cancer.
It was 1985. "I had no injury or any reason to believe anything was going on. I was sound asleep one Tuesday night, but I woke up screaming in pain. It was very strange," he says. Being an athlete, Coleman was accustomed to bumps and bruises. But by Friday, when he developed a large, swollen area above his elbow, he called his orthopedist.
After a series of tests, Coleman was diagnosed with hairy cell leukemia. He underwent surgery, followed by six weeks in the hospital - the first two in intensive care. Then he was homebound for three months, continually monitoring his blood count in the hope that his condition would improve enough to allow him to receive treatment for the leukemia.
Coleman began his initial treatment at the University of Chicago, but in the meantime, his mother began learning all she could about the disease. When a friend told her about an article in Time magazine explaining a treatment at MD Anderson, she knew that was where Coleman should be.
"Dr. Jorge Quesada at MD Anderson had a clinical trial using interferon for hairy cell leukemia. As it turns out, I was a candidate for the trial, and Dr. Quesada put me on it right away," he says. "I traveled back and forth between Houston and Florida for seven years."
Coleman's next goal? Helping others eliminate cancer by including MD Anderson in his will, Coleman wants to ensure that future generations will have the same chance to beat cancer that he did.
"MD Anderson gives hope. I was there a lot, and it is a hopeful place. I want to be part of that hope," he says.
"You always set a goal and move to a higher level. You can never be perfect, but you're always striving to master another goal. I want to be proactive and give something back so that when there's a time and need for someone else, maybe some of the money can be used for research that will make a difference to other patients. It's an uphill battle trying to discover new research activities that will lead to better treatments, and I want to be a part of that discovery.